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Are You Struggling to Build a Profitable Front-End?

As an independent, community pharmacist, you know front-end strategy is crucial to business success, but your time spent working on your pharmacy is limited. You need a robust, proven strategy to boost front-end sales and power revenue. Pharmace is a suite of solutions dedicated exclusively to helping independent community pharmacies. These solutions and tools enable the pharmacy staff to engage and connect with patients, thus differentiating your business from “big box” retail stores. Independent and compounding pharmacies across the country are utilizing these tools and taking their stores to the next level.

In her own words, Suzanne Keyes, compounding pharmacist and business owner, shares her journey to becoming an independent pharmacy owner and the success she has achieved implementing the Pharmace program in her practice.

I received my bachelor of science in pharmacy in 1996 from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma.

In 1999, with the support of my husband, Mike, and my family, I enrolled at the University of Oklahoma to obtain my Doctor of Pharmacy degree while raising a blended family and working full-time as a hospital pharmacist and nursing home consultant. I later left my clinical position and tried my hand at retail. I was a pharmacy manager for a worldwide chain for several years before finding my true professional calling: independent business owner, compounding pharmacist and consultant.

My husband and I opened Keyes’ Compounding & Specialty Drug, LLC in August 2011. My idea was to be solely compounding– I wanted nothing to do with a “front-end.’ In fact, I built out my rental space with just enough room for one tiny shelf that would hold the small amount of supplements I chose to stock.

After three years, I realized there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all pill, cream, solution, supplement or therapy to cure all my patients. I realized my patients were coming in with the same symptoms, the same diagnoses and the same histories of failed medications, diets and supplements. This is when my “What?” turned to “Why?”, the name on my business cards changed to Keyes’ Compounding & Wellness Center, and I quickly outgrew my front-end space. At the same time, I began my pursuit for certification through the Institute for Functional Medicine.

On a Monday morning, not long after this transition, an account executive came in. She wanted to talk to me. I don’t remember what Casey said exactly, but I do know that whatever it was, it intrigued me enough to not only invite her back into my office, but then holler (we holler in the South) to my staff, “You’ve GOT to come in here and listen to this girl.” We locked the door and for the next hour Casey educated me. She didn’t try to sell me one product. She sold me on education. I was in from that point forward.

Once I started taking advantage of the Pharmace educational resources, it was only natural for me to look further into the vast array of supplements that have proven to be overwhelmingly successful in my patient population. Several things are important to me in selecting a product and a brand line: the quality of products, clinical studies that support product claims, and the brand’s ability to provide tools that keep me from re-inventing the wheel.

The Pharmace tools and resources meet this criteria. I use the Pharmace Replete pads daily. The information on the tear-off pads is spot-on accurate, convenient and provides quick talking points. I find ways to use them in speaking to my patients receiving legend drugs (as listed) as well as those that only fill compounds with me. I feel it provides an opportunity to explain to patients that we are not thousands of symptoms, but just a few systems. And those systems rely on each other’s ability to function properly, giving the prescribed medication a fighting chance to be effective and not disrupt any other system in the process.

When I show my patients the Pharmace Replete form and explain their complaints of anxiety, headaches, muscle spasms, constipation and sleep disturbances could be signs of nutrient depletion caused be their prescription, I feel like I am fulfilling the fundamental requirements of my profession, from which many pharmacists have strayed.

It is imperative that my staff is educated in the subjects on which I speak. For this reason, my staff usually accompanies me to CE conferences. To date, my staff (technicians, not pharmacists) has been to several conferences intended for doctors or pharmacists on subjects that many would say are over their heads. But not my staff. All of the tools I have acquired from the Pharmace program have given them the foundation they needed to answer many patient questions regarding the pathophysiology of certain systems and supplements that are most appropriate. The Pharmace program gives me and my team the confidence that our patients’ questions are answered appropriately.

Incorporating functional medicine into my pharmacy practice has not only set me apart from my competitors, but has strengthened my relationship with my patients and it has positioned me as an equal player in the triad of patient care. The local physicians rely on my knowledge and expertise more when they see their patients improving after following our suggestions of implementing small changes (e.g., adding whole nutritionally dense foods, replacing depleted vitamins/minerals, repopulating healthy gut bacteria, etc.).

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